It took more than spot-on period costumes and Queen Victoria’s diaries to transform actress Jenna Coleman into the former queen of Great Britain and Ireland in the 1800s. Damien Timmer, managing director of Mammoth Productions and the producer of Victoria, the upcoming period drama set to premiere on PBS at 9pET/8pCT beginning Sunday, January 15, recently revealed the extraordinary lengths staff had to go to in order to transform the eyes of actress Jenna Coleman to their historically accurate hue. The problem facing producers was that actress Jenna Coleman, who plays the title role, has brown eyes and Queen Victoria famously had blue eyes.
After initially experimenting with a wide range of different contact lenses to change the Coleman’s natural eye color, when the actress appeared on screen tests, it was still clearly not right. After finding just the right color, producers encountered what quickly became a previously unknown bigger obstacle at the press launch screening of Victoria. As an audience of critics, cast and crew watched Coleman light up a very big screen, they noticed the plastic rims of the blue lenses around her eyes.
Mr Timmer explained: “Despite everyone’s best efforts in post-production, the contact lenses were really obvious and strange – you could see these big plastic rims around her eyes.” The production team subsequently set out on a painstaking process of spending the next three weeks going through all eight episodes, frame by frame, and blurring any rogue contact lens edges that were clearly visible. Unfortunately, three weeks and a lot of money to edit images of a brown-eyed Jenna Coleman wearing the lenses.
In the end, the Victoria producer admitted: ‘It cost a lot of money and everyone was very cross with me.‘ – Sadly, such is the life of a producer….
Victoria premieres Sunday, January 15 at 9pET/8pCT on PBS.